Central tenets of Neuro Reality Processes
To better appreciate various Neuro Reality devices and methodologies, it is important to review the Central tenets that lay at the foundation of what may appear to be a complex system.
The following is a brief summary review of these tenets.
The sequence is organic with no significant importance as to what tenet appears higher or lower in the list.
The term “Neuro Reality” (NR) refers to an aspect of consciousness that is common to all beings and holds a special place in human experience.
As a principle, Neuro Reality joins an ever-expanding appreciation of possible perspectives of engaged experience such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Synchronized Reality (SR) and Expanded Reality (XR).
Neuro Reality is the interface between primal unconscious activities and common cognition with the senses.
It is the realm of experience that, by metaphor, is the zone that unites the surface of the ocean and the deep dark hidden waters. It is the “bridge”.
Regardless of the type of organism, successful adaptation to its changing circumstance and environment is key to its survival.
Regardless of whether one believes in the primacy of “natural selection” or teleological “purpose”, every organism of high or low development relies on fundamental levels of organization. Organization requires communication and communication requires language.
A key tenet of Neuro Reality is that there exists a “First Language” shared ubiquitously by all organisms found in Nature.
Necessarily, this First Language must pre-date any more advanced cognitive process and advancing intellect in order to serve even the most primitive organism.
Viewed from the perspective of phylogenesis, organisms advance in complexity by integrating lower, older successful dynamics into the newer evolving problem-solving experiences.
As such, the successful organizing effects of communication via the First Language remain efficiently intact in all organisms regardless of the degree of complex evolution – this includes the human being and our brain.
In general terms, the First Language can be easily recognized as Light and Sound. Light is electromagnetic radiation and Sound is mechanical vibration. Light requires no medium for the transfer of information and Sound requires are medium.
The expression of First Language may be extended to other factors such as pure electricity, magnetism and even gravity.
These extended factors cross-over into the atomic and subatomic domains that underlie molecular charge based chemical reactions. However, in terms of simplicity and functional elegance, for our Neuro Reality purposes, designating Light and Sound as the principle means of communication within Neuro Reality works well.
A Way of Knowing:
A principle emerging from Neuro Reality and The First Language is the fact that there is “a way of knowing without thinking”.
This depth of “knowing” must be present in all organisms, ancient or contemporary, simple or complex.
It is the essence of adaptation, survival and the seed of learning. Consequently, Light and Sound are integral as expressing the vocabulary of the First Language and contributing to the sense of “knowing” how and when to react to the triggers of adaptation.
Although we humans claim the status of “crown of creation” (self-anointed, I might add) and point towards our capacity for cognition (“I think therefore I am” – thank you, Descartes) as evidence, it may hint at our Achilles’ Heel as experience illustrates that just because we “can” do something does not mean we “should” do it.
The chasm that separates intelligence from wisdom can be vast.
There are many ways of recognizing the effectiveness of Neuro Reality and First Language in our lives.
Throughout human cultural history, societies and traditions, each in their own way, have described “intuition”, “inner voice”, “inner guru”, “knowing heart” and “gut instincts” (among many others) as messengers of a “knowing” that is not derived from a logic chain of thought – that is to say “a way of knowing without thinking”.
Although the principle of adaptive change in the brain of adult humans is a very new discovery in medical science, it is obvious that the functions of neuroplasticity have been at the core of organisms from that mysterious “Day One”.
Currently, the most popular (and “popularized”) access to neuroplastic modification is through Mental (psychological) methods.
Mental/behavioral games and tasks, made more effective by digital technologies and games, offer easy access to brain changing efforts.
Although not typically recognized as such, Movement (exercise/somatic) methods phylogenetically pre-date Mental methods. So much of the science of exercise and “fitness” is just beginning to appreciate the value of somatic/kinetic Movement as a way of influencing neuroplastic changes in the brain.
Again, following the traces of phylogenesis, even more primitive than Movement (and certainly vastly more primitive than Mental), are the neuroplastic triggers provided by the “special senses” of which sight (Light) and hearing (Sound) are dominant.
All one has to do is inspect the human brain to see how much neurological territory is devoted to processing these two First Language “streams” of information.
Neuroplastic change occurs in (basically) four overlapping ways:
1) Functional Neuroplasticity:
a. Changes occur in seconds, minutes & hours;
b. Reawakens pre-existing but underutilized synaptic patterns;
c. Metaphorically, these are routes and roads that already exist but have not be used for a long while.
2) Synaptic Neuroplasticity:
a. Changes occur in days & weeks;
b. New synaptic patterns are created using pre-existing neurons;
c. Metaphorically, new, novel routes are created using pre-existing roads.
3) Neuronal Neuroplasticity:
a. Changes occur in months;
b. New neurons (neurogenesis) are created to enable to new required synaptic patterns;
c. Metaphorically, new and novel roads are built to enable new routes to be used.
4) Systemic Neuroplasticity:
a. Changes occur in years;
b. All of the above changes are integrated broadly throughout the organism;
c. Metaphorically, the new roads and routes evolve into new transport and communication activities.
How to Understand the Brain:
There are various ways of characterizing the human brain.
They typically reflect our most recent technology and science (like a telephone system, like a computer, like the internet, like a CAS – Complex Adaptive System, derived from advanced Systems Theory). Putting (as best we can) metaphors and similes aside, here are some considerations of how to understand the human brain.
Keep in mind that in Western culture, in the era of Greek philosophy and extending into the Scientific Revolution, the brain was typically not given primary consideration.
Many systems of thought placed the centrality of human consciousness and regulation in the heart and not the brain. Our concepts are always developed through the prism of our times.
The Brain as a Filter:
The “filter” view is based on a belief that “reality” has a twin aspect we normally refer to as “consciousness”.
The premise is that “reality/consciousness” is unimaginably vast and complex and that a human “mind” can only grasp small percentages of this “reality” at any one time.
The vastness and complexity of even our physical “reality” (without any consideration of this experience we call “consciousness”) certainly supports this view.
Consider that our human body is composed of some 10 trillion cells in which each cell there occurs well-orchestrated events of around 10,000 per second.
Or perhaps that our astronomy can say with confidence that there are millions and millions of galaxies each with millions and millions of solar systems. And that our human brain is composed of more neuronal synapses as there are stars in the sky.
Mind boggling, to be sure.
So, the “filter” model proposes that the brain acts chiefly to restrict information and reduce it down to levels that we can process without going mad.
Arguably, the majority of brain activity is involved in “non-conscious” tasks allowing a miniscule amount of information to reach the level of conscious awareness.
In this “filter” model, accessing new important information would involve “turning OFF” normally “filters” (and not, as Timothy Leary famously said, “turning ON” the brain).
Early propositions and support for a “filter” model brain came from William James, 100 years ago or so.
James is credited as being the Founding Father of Western Psychology and his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience is gaining a resurrection amongst researchers in “consciousness (once a taboo subject in academia) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) departments (read The Doors of Perception for details).
One of the key 20th century Western philosophers, Henri Bergson, also proposed the “filter” model more than 60 years ago as did the famous early Californian psychonaut, Aldous Huxley.
As we will see below, the “filter” model plays well into “How the Brain Learns”.
The Brain as a Signal Tuner:
Especially in the advent of electronic communication technologies and cybernetics, the principle of finding “signal in the noise” has been applied to our brain.
Along this line of thinking, one can appreciate the constant task of the brain to convert “nonsense into sense”, to convert the “meaningless into the meaningful”.
The trick here is to find patterns of import often hidden in a spaghetti bowl of stimulation.
It is easy enough when the “noise” is obviously unimportant so that the “signal” can stand out for recognition. Imagine being at a loud party of mixed conversations and music…and somehow being able to hear someone calling out your name.
Your name has a predetermined significance and represents “meaningfulness” amidst the “noise”.
The Signal Tuner is much less effective when an important new signal (lacking pre-existing significance) is mixed into the “noise” – this again plays well into “How the Brain Learns”, below.
The Brain as a Prediction Organ:
Considering both the “Filter” model and the “Signal Tuner” model (described immediately above), it is understandable that the brain would seek out any plausible short cut possible.
In the Filter model, there is sooooo much data that it is impossible to convert all of it into recognizable conscious experience. In the Signal Tuner model, there is sooooo much “noise” that it is difficult to locate the “signal”.
Hence the attempt at making reasonable “predictions” as to meaning and signal.
Essentially, our brain likes to “jump to conclusions”.
In the flow of experience, as soon as aspects of a pattern of a meaningful information presents itself, the brain will assume that the remainder of the pattern will occur.
This is where “practice makes perfect” plays a big role in skill. It is the neurological basis of what we call “habit”. It is how one learns how to hit a 100 mile an hour fast ball pitch in baseball.
You just can’t think that fast.
It is similar (which I often hate) to the autocorrect function in many current software programs. It is a combination of pattern recognition as related to context.
It helps us develop skill-based habits but it also allows us to react inappropriately when the pattern is misinterpreted in context. It can help reinforce new learning BUT it can also impede new learning. As pointed out in the title of one book on neuroplastic change – “Breaking the Habit of Being Ourselves” may well be the toughest habit of all to change.
How the Brain Learns:
Another word for “learning” could be “adaptation”.
Consider that most brain activity is consumed by tasks well below conscious awareness. It would seem clear by this fact that most new learning will also be occurring in the “twilight” zones that bound and merge conscious, subconscious and unconscious activities. This is the realm of the First Language.
Borrowing from information above, our most advanced model of brain behavior is that of a CAS (Complex Adaptive System).
In simplicity, a CAS is a system or collection of systems that have innumerable if not unknown numbers of parts and aspects.
Wondrously, all of these aspects are interdependent and interact continuously.
To top it all off, the organization is self-reliant which is to say there is no “boss” running the show – decision making is shared throughout the CAS. It has the ability to self-organize internal activities in relationship to external conditions.
The basic principle is one of “self-regulation”.
A CAS has an odd or funny behavior. Every once and a while, for no apparent reason (to us anyway) it will abandon its ordered organization and let loose into a degree of chaotic activity. We don’t know why but there are possible signs of why.
Perhaps it just “loses its grip on reality” or “wants to explore new possibilities” or maybe it just “wants to play”.
Remember the human brain is considered a CAS.
This gives us a profound insight into “how the brain learns”.
Consider these short “formulas”:
- Order > Chaos> Higher Order
- Signal > Noise > New Signal
- Stable > Unstable > More Stable
Now reflect upon the “Filter” model from above combined with the “Signal Tuner” and “Prediction Organ”.
The idea of “filters” might seem neurologically obscure but recent brain targeted neuroscience has yielded likely physiological evidence of such functions – and we are calling them Neural Networks.
A Neural Network is a teaming up of various localized functions in the brain to perform a more complex generalized activity.
It was important past neurological discovery that yielded what we call “localization” in the brain which means, in simple terms, that certain areas in the brain have a distinct responsibility for certain functions.
The “network” principle builds on “localization”.
In a Neural Network, certain pre-determined “localizations” all act together for a period of time – it is a team sport.
Let’s use on the most studied neural networks to explore the way that our brain learns. Let’s look at the Default Mode Network (DMN).
It is not important here to list all of the anatomical components. Just understand there are a bunch of them.
For them to act as a team, they must all “click” together and maintain this team work in an “ordered” and “stable” way.
Interestingly, the DMN is “turned on” when we are not in a focused task mode. It becomes active when we are ruminating, day dreaming, passively listening to a story – kind of “kicked back”. Furthermore, (and this is a “biggie”), the dominance of the DMN yields the experiential sense of “Me”. It is the feeling of identification of a “self” separate and unique from others and experience in general.
It is a highly “ordered” experiential state that allows use to maintain a psychic state while “floating” between tasks.
Here’s the thing.
When new learning is required (for whatever reason), the “ordered” states of habit and past learning may prove insufficient for the necessary adaptation.
The “habit of Me” (to paraphrase the book tilted cited above) can be too restrictive – the “filter” may be too restrained. It may be time for new perspectives, new points of view.
Maybe some open exploration will help. Maybe a short journey into the jungle of “noise”, of “nonsense”, of “meaninglessness”.
Welcome to Chaos.
Here are three interesting examples of the DMN becoming “unstable”:
1) Dream sleep;
Dream sleep is considered a healthy psychological mechanism in which we are able to roam about emotionally charged reflections with permission to abandon the normal “me” as well as time and space.
During dream sleep, the DMN is destabilized for short periods of time.
With most all hallucinogens, the DMN is destabilized for longer periods, if not many hours.
The tangential vectors of thought are scattered to circumstance and the sense of “Me” becomes highly variable.
Every hallucinogen has its own “personality” however it is well recognized that the “set and setting” have a powerful influence on the nature and content of the experience.
In Alzheimer’s, the neural physiology of the DMN slowly degenerates and along with it, the identification of self, the “Me” (and therefore, the other) begins to evaporate.
Order > Chaos > Higher Order, if it all goes well. You can tie the game with Order > Chaos Same Order. Or if things go badly, Order > Chaos > Lower Order. Hmmmmm.
I typically use the metaphor of panning for gold in a river.
You have a flat/concave pan with which you scoop up the river sediment which is mainly sand (Order).
Then you begin to begin to swirl and swish it all about so that the lighter material is thrown off the pan leaving the heavier material still in the pan (Chaos). The idea of course is that gold is very heavy so if there are some nuggets of gold in the sediment, they will remain in the pan (the goal and risk of the process).
In the end, you may return to the same previous state of “order” (meaning there was nothing gained – no “signal” emerged from the “noise”) or, more hopefully, there was a nugget or two of gold left in the pan (Higher Order – you “learned” something of value).
All brain “learning” (neuroplastic change) involves periods of “tempered instability”.
These are phases of regulated but “unfiltered” access to “noise” and “meaningless” stimulation. Fritz Perls (famed in Gestalt Therapy and the Human Potential Movement) referred to this ironically positive phase as “Creative Frustration”.
It is fascinating to appreciate that the most common means of creating “tempered instability” is to ask a person a question – even the simply interrogative of “Why” creates a pause that is evidence of destabilization (of course, not if you are a politician trained to never answer a question but to use the moment to just deliver whatever message you may have planned before hand).
How to Communicate with the Brain:
In Neuro Reality processes, we refer to Brain Engagement methods as the principle in technique.
Using the elements found in The First Language, Light and Sound are arranged as “compositions”.
The term “composition” is used purposefully as it reflects the common ways in which First Language communicates with the brain throughout all cultures and all times.
I often refer to music as the most obvious example of how to communicate with the brain at a primal level.
Music is the way it is because the brain is the way it is. It is of no coincidence that we have an irresistible urge to make music and…that we love to listen to it as well.
Music has a beat but is so much more than a beat. If it were just a sustained beat, nothing more than a metronome would satisfy our appetite for music.
Consider this example.
Someone has a deep and sad experience and decides to write a musical score to express the grief and sorrow.
It is pure instrumental and does not use any words or lyrics.
When the song is then played, even when the listener has no idea about the nature of the original experience or motivation of the composer, the music will reliably cause the listener to begin to experience sadness, sorrow and grief.
The sounds are just pitches and pauses, tones and rhythms, yet…they are effective in communicating deep even profound information.
This is a cross-cultural example of a “way of knowing without thinking”.
Sound as a key aspect of The First Language has always been easier to manipulate than Light and consequently has developed over the millennia in a broad and unending variety of forms.
Until recent advances in modern technology, humans were strongly limited in their abilities to compose Light based communications.
Limited to sun and moon light and at a time to fire light, Light compositions were simple and restricted.
Compared to Sound with voice and drum followed by the extensive array of wind, string and expanded tonal percussions, music has been best representative of a successful communication with the brain according to the principles of brain function.
Fortunately, we are a time now when Light can also be manipulated into the First Language of brain communication.
In First Language composition theory, one uses two interrelated principles:
1) Tempered instability arranged with ordered or stabilized messaging;
2) Either linear Story Telling or circular Emotional Exploration.
As explained somewhat above, the Ordered state of efficient Adaptive Learning, has strong integrity that resists breakdown.
The Predictive nature of habitual brain functions makes it very difficult to rearrange neural responses while the patterns remain cohesive. Fortunately, like all CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems), the brain is always dancing at the edge of Chaos and this drift into Chaos can be induced and sustained within reasonable limits.
It is when the “filters” weaken and “noise” is allowed to increase that the doorways to new adaptive learning open up. This is the basis of neuroplastic change and rests at the heart of Neuro Reality compositional designs.
Using special Light/ Sound signal structures, it is possible to induce and temporarily sustain an unstable condition in the brain.
In positive processes, it is critical that the degree and length of the destabilization be controlled to match the neuroplastic capacity of the individual.
This is the basis of the term “Tempered Instability” as it respects the relation of the neuroplastic demand with the common neuroplastic capacity of the human brain.
In the composition, Tempered Instability is used judiciously to first “soften the glue” of Order and trigger a positive degree of Attention without pushing it too far into Vigilance or, worse, Threat.
Later in the composition, one or more periods of Tempered Instability are typically reintroduced as “message challenges” with the purpose of reinforcing the cardinal new information.
Once the initial Tempered Instability is introduced and the Attention (Attention is the key trigger in any neuroplastic action) has been aroused, the composition immediately introduces the Primary Attractor which carries the signals aligned with the main theme or “vector” of the composition.
After injecting the Primary Attractors (in Systems Theory known as the Strange Attractors), the Secondary Attractors are introduced which complement the Primary Attractors.
The Secondary Attractors help create a messaging “context” for the Primary Attractors. (Think of the Primary Attractors and Secondary Attractors as Lead Actors and Supporting Actors in a movie.)
Linear or Circular Compositions:
The brain likes its messaging in one of two basic (often overlapping) forms:
- Linear Story Telling;
- Circular Emotional Exploration.
Linear Story Telling can be most easily recognized in literature as “prose” which is developmental as one thing leads to another.
Circular Emotional Exploration is recognized in literature in poetry where layers of implied messaging build over top each other with a resulting summary effect.
In Neuro Reality Light/Sound compositions, the linear Story Telling style of composition is often very effective in themes/vectors related to Cognitive Skills such as Clarity, Focus, Problem Solving, Memory, etc. Circular Emotional Exploration style composition is very useful in relation to Emotional States, Mood Stabilization, Post Trauma, Dependency Habits, etc.
Any time the brain is induced to enter a disordered state by techniques utilizing Tempered Instability methods, it will shift temporarily into an important condition known as “hyperplasticity”. Hyperplasticity means that the “synaptic glue” (metaphorically) of habitual brain neural signally is vulnerable to modification.
This is a potentially very good thing but is obviously a double-edged sword as is given evidence in “brain washing” techniques, torture and cult induction.
Typically, if the Tempered Instability has been sufficient relative to the individuals neuroplastic capacity, the initial period of Hyperplasticity will endure for one to two hours. This “after glow” is a ripened period for reinforcing new impressions.
The profound advantage of well designed Neuro Reality compositions is that the hyperplastic period is introduced right into the structure of the composition.
The planned integration of Tempered Instability with the Primary and Secondary Attractors has the purpose of developing degrees of hyperplasticity into the form of the composition itself.
Consider the example of a well-constructed novel or movie script. The conventional method for bringing out deeper, perhaps hidden, characteristics of an individual is to introduce conflict into the story line. Conflict leads to challenge which leads to change and resolution.
This is precisely the same advantage of introducing degrees of Tempered Instability into the composition combined with phases of Primary and Secondary Attractors messaging.
Following the completed composition(s), as stated above there is typically a one to two-hour period of heightened neuroplastic sensitivity – a kind of “honeymoon” state.
Then following innate circadian rhythms, another important but somewhat less sensitive period of hyperplasticity will pronounce itself at about 8 hours after the initial stimulation.
Then, on schedule, 24 hours after the initial stimulation another decreasingly potent hyperplastic state and, 48 hours later the (typically) last period of weakened hyperplasticity.
This physiologically based circadian rhythm is also recognized in dream recall (dream being an unstable state) and also in current hallucinogenic “microdosing” practices where the Tempered Instability state effects will be allowed to mature over two days following the “microdose day” which is then followed by another “microdose” on the third day – the same 72 hour period described above.
Neuro Reality compositions create heightened Probability States in which the individual is more likely to experience brain behaviors in line with the themes or vectors of the composition. It is like showing the brain “neurological dance steps” which, with practice, can become new “learned” patterns, behaviors or habits.
About Brain Entrainment:
The advent of EEG technology presented many intriguing surprises related to brain functions, one of which, of course, is that fact that there are measurable electrical events going on in our brain at all times.
Being able to detect then measure the amplitudes of various brain waves opened an entirely new investigation of brain behavior.
It wasn’t so long after that a Frequency Following Response was noted in which certain brainwaves could be coaxed into a degree of prominence using various techniques such as electricity, light and sound.
Frankly, this fact should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever tapped their foot to a tune.
There was a phase of initial excitement in which forecasts of quick transcendental states surpassing conventional meditation, very rapid new learning and the solution to numerous medical and psychological problems were being boasted.
Of course, those were the days of slow, expensive analogue technology.
No one could conceive of the power of the personal computing and the advent of inexpensive digital instruments and technologies. From its “hay days” of the 1980s, Brain Entrainment quietly faded from the visions of the Human Potential Movement and into the shadows of passing trend.
With the coming of digital devices, the internet, social media and urbanized disenchantment, we now find ourselves in an era of “neo-Shamanism” and “romantic naturalism”.
Many individuals who may not have even been born in the high times of emerging Brain Entrainment seem entirely enraptured by “binaural beats” with YouTube flooded with “Caution: very Powerful Pineal Gland Activation” animated sound landscapes.
The fact is that Brain Entrainment does work – but not nearly as well as was hoped.
It takes advantage of just one specific aspect of brain behavior. The effects can be closer to a narrow, sustained trance state than any kind a new learning.
The neuroplastic effects are minimal at best or non-existent. It has been well noted that the post entrainment period is very short and that the degree to which these narrow states can be recreated is modest.
Most importantly, the entrained states do not appear to significantly contribute to the complex and progressive conditions found in adaptive learning.
Elements of the basic Frequency Following Response (Brain Entrainment) contribute effects within the greater domain of Neuro Reality Brain Engagement compositions.
They have a part to play in supportive roles but do not make for an effective influence by themselves.
In my view, Brain Entrainment is a fascinating early contribution in the ever-evolving exploration of efficient neuroplastic Brain Engagement methods and designs.